OSHA: Protect workers from heat illness with rest, water, shade
With temperatures expected to soar into the 90s for the next several days throughout the Midwest, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is reminding employers to protect workers that may be exposed to extreme heat while working outdo...
With temperatures expected to soar into the 90s for the next several days throughout the Midwest, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, is reminding employers to protect workers that may be exposed to extreme heat while working outdoors or in hot indoor environments.
Each year, thousands of workers suffer the effects of heat exposure and, in some cases, die as a result. In 2014 alone, 2,630 workers suffered from heat illness and 18 died from heat stroke and related causes on the job.
"Heat-related illnesses can be fatal, and employers are responsible for keeping workers safe," said Ken Atha, OSHA's Regional Administrator in Chicago, in a news release. "Employers can take a few easy steps to save lives, including scheduling frequent water breaks, providing shade and allowing ample time to rest."
A majority of recent heat-related deaths investigated by OSHA involved workers on the job for three days or less-highlighting the need for employers to ensure that new workers become acclimated to the heat when starting or returning to work.
To prevent heat related illness and fatalities:
• Drink water every 15 minutes, even if you are not thirsty.
• Rest in the shade to cool down.
• Wear a hat and light-colored clothing.
• Learn the signs of heat illness and what to do in an emergency.
• Keep an eye on fellow workers.
• "Easy does it" on your first days of work in the heat. You need to get used to it.
The risk of heat stress increases for workers who are 65 years of age or older, are overweight, have heart disease or high blood pressure, or take medications.
Working in full sunlight can increase heat index values by 15 degrees. Keep this in mind and plan additional precautions for working in these conditions. Those employed in hot indoor environments such as miners, firefighters, bakery, factory and boiler room workers, are also at risk when temperatures rise.
Also OSHA has provided heat safety tips for workers in a blog, Twitter posts, and an updated heat campaign webpage that now includes illustrations of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, an animated video, training resources, and links to an updated heat safety phone app.#WaterRestShade is the official hashtag of the campaign, encouraging employers to provide their workers with drinking water, ample breaks, and a shaded area while working outdoors.
And OSHA also continues to partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to raise awareness on the dangers of working in the heat through its Weather-Ready Nation campaign.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Kansas City Regional Office at 816-502-9022.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Go to www.osha.gov for more information.